Free Lunging? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-30-2009, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Free Lunging?

I was wondering how you train a horse to free lunge? Thumper just walks into the corner or trots to the gate and stands. I'd really like to teach him to free lunge, because I think it would really help him... anyway how would I go about getting him to do this?

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post #2 of 8 Old 10-30-2009, 07:41 PM
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You have to think a step ahead of them. When they look like they're going to slow down or stop by the gate start cracking the lunge whip - they'll figure out that they're supposed to keep moving pretty quickly. And make sure you're consistent in driving them from behind.

Have fun :) I love free lunging for horses!

Mom to 3 bays: Beau, Daisy & Cavalina
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-30-2009, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Alright- thanks! Yeah free lunging is definitely fun and I think it's great for the horse, too. I'll work on that the next time I get a chance to free lunge!

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post #4 of 8 Old 10-31-2009, 12:28 AM
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I tried free lunging with my horse the other day. It was going great and she was walking nice and quiet in the arena and all of a sudden she bolted, galloped and bucked to the other end of the arena. Then she took a few moments to prance with her head and tail held high and snorted/blew at me a few times to say "this is fun - lets play chase!!" When she saw that I wasn't interested in "chase" she quietly came over to me and we then started over. We had one more round of the same and then I made her walk quietly for a BRIEF moment and called it quits before she could try and play again!!

I'd say we have a lonnnggg way to go.....
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-31-2009, 12:41 AM
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It always works best in a round pen, but as was stated it's definately doable in a large ring as well. You'll probably end up doing a lot of running at first (obviously not in a fast spooky way) just to keep within distance to give him the signals. In my experience, if you can keep them moving and not stopped (if he keeps going to the gate and stopping, get "louder" about it, pop the whip and use your voice to ask him to move on but ALWAYS make sure you're to the side and behind him so that his escape route is open in a wide direction) they figure out pretty fast it's just easier to keep circling you.

For example, if you have a large arena and the gate is at the far end and in the middle, I'd pick one side to work up so I'm not coming straight at him. Horses will only get panicked and try to jump the gate or fence if you trap or crowd them. By making a big commotion with your whip and voice, you can get pretty much any horse moving back out from a good 20-30 feet away.

Here's actually a good video to show what I mean - this was Shay-la working Bandit. It's a bit hard to see, but right at the beginning you can see her running to cut him off because he's trying to cut out of the circle. It involves a lot more moving around then regular lunging, but by the end, she's able to keep him on the circle. If he didn't show her that bend and continued to the gate (where I'm standing to video tape), she would have immediately run up the side of the arena before he could even GET to the gate and make him move out again. It's all about ALWAYS staying on his hip and using your body to drive them forward and on the circle. He spent a lot of his original time heading for the gate, but it only took a few sessions for him to figure out it was futile.

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post #6 of 8 Old 10-31-2009, 09:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help! We do have a round pen at my barn, but the footing is horrible and I'd rather not put him through that, so for now it's the arena . I'll try everything and see how it goes.

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post #7 of 8 Old 10-31-2009, 09:41 AM
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newhorsemom, it sounds like your horse was saying 'I am not going to listen to you, I am the boss'. My green gelding does that sometimes. He will be a total butt hole and rebel against me, trying to turn when I don't want him too, actually bucking out towards me. I smacked his hind end with the whip when he bucked.

John Lyons said "never hit a horse the fourth time" well, after the third time he got smacked, he never attempted it again. I always free lunge him, no tack or anything. I don't free lunge before every ride or everything I do. The only times I lunge him, is when he starts getting pushy, and I can tell by place as 'alpha' mare is in a crisis. And don't stop lungeing until he is showing submission. If it has been a good day, I stop and let him come in when he is licking or chewing with his lips. If he was being rude, mean, obnoxiuos and a butt, a wait until his head is lowered and he really means it, that he is submitting to me.

But let me tell you, once that is done, and he does, it is awesome for you to walk with no halter or lead, and the horse will follow you! You can turn to the left, to the right, in a circle, if truly submitted, they will follow you. He acts like the best behaved 10 yr old that is so patient and bombproof after that exercise is done.

**Just let me caution you, when you have a horse behaving dangerous like your mare, make sure your round pen is very big, so if she does act up, or even wants to cut a corner, there is plenty of room for her to do so, and you can still be safe. Sometimes horses spazz out working in too small off a round pen.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back. -- Unkown
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-31-2009, 02:53 PM
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Chevy, thanks, I never even thought about that! I was thinking she was being playful and, being the first time we ever tried this, not understanding what I was asking her of her (I'm a total rookie at this!). She certainly wasn't bucking or charging at me. She also quietly walked over to me when I didn't respond to her prancing and blowing. Generally she is very well behaved and willing to please. My 8 year old daughter can walk her around cones and over poles without any lead while doing groundwork in the arena. How can I tell if she is being bossy or just playful?
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